Australian Fundraising Regulation by State & Territory

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Note: The following is an abridged version of Andrew Lind’s Fundraising Regulation paper. To receive the full copy, please use the form below.

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With the exception of the Northern Territory, all Australian jurisdictions have their own legislation which regulates charitable fundraising. What I do not deal with in this paper are local authority laws that often place additional requirements on street and door to door collections; and nor do I deal with obligations under lotteries and gaming legislation.

A map of Australia covered in red tape - representing the excessive regulation in the country

The criticism of State by State regulation is that there is a ‘lack of uniformity … because of the varying antiquity or modernity of the legislation’.[1]

The format of this part of my paper will be unconventional. In order to facilitate comparison between the jurisdictions headings are used with short and to the point comments following.

The questions always arises for a charity based in one State who wants to fundraise though their web site  – do they need to obtain a fundraising licence in each State and the Territory (ACT) simply because their web site can be viewed and responded to by donors in those other states? As far as I am aware, no State or Territory regulator has run a prosecution for failure to do so and perhaps for good reason. Read on.

Visualised: Fundraising Regulation by State

Illustration by Deloitte showing Fundraising Regulation by State in Australia
Image from Deloitte’s Cutting Red Tape Report – Fundraising Regulations by State

Cross Border Fundraising: Summary of a Practical Approach

  1. If a charity has “people on the ground” in a State or Territory (participating in a fundraising appeal), a license should be sought in that State or Territory.
  2. If a charity has a “back office” or its “collecting bank” branch in a State or Territory, a license should be sought in that State or Territory.
  3. The State or Territory in which the website of a charity is hosted may be important.
  4. If a charity has no connection with a State or Territory, consider the individual laws of a State or Territory that the charity may not intend to apply in. If a charity decides that it doesn’t intend to apply, call the regulators office that State or Territory and run the thinking past them. Then have the governing body of the charity consider next steps.
  5. If in doubt about a jurisdiction after following step 4, consider taking advice on saying in the appeal, that donations are not being sought from that jurisdiction (and then ensure that this is followed in practice). This may not be enough in all jurisdictions.
  6. Any decision not to apply in a particular jurisdiction should be made by the governing body.
  7. If still in doubt, apply for a licence in the in doubt jurisdiction.

State-specific Acts & Regulations:

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  • [1] LexisNexis, Australian Encyclopaedia of Laws and Precedents, vol 85 (at June 2014) Charities, ‘Regulation of fundraising for charities’ [230].